Rudy Gobert reads Twitter comments, so he’s aware that Minnesota fans didn’t like him very much during his first nine NBA seasons. And he heard too Timberwolves coach Chris Finch regularly complains about the way he places screens.
Those perspectives are likely to change.
“Now we’re on the same side, so I’m excited,” Gobert said.
So is Minnesota, for good reason. The Timberwolves announced the acquisition of Gobert Wednesday at a news conference in Minneapolis, when the transaction they agreed with the Utah Jazz last week could finally become official. It took four players, five first-round picks — including one made last month — and the ability to trade another pick to get the French center to Minnesota, and the Timberwolves still feel like they have prevailed.
“We think it fits perfectly into what we already do,” Finch said.
In a league that has become increasingly positional where sometimes the small ball reigns supreme, the Timberwolves now have two of the league’s very best big men in the same lineup with a three-time Defensive Player of the Year in Gobert playing alongside All-NBA performer Karl -Anthony Towns.
“He’s not inhibiting anything we currently have,” said Tim Connelly, Timberwolves president of Basketball Operations. “He’s making it better. He’s expanding what we have now. So when we look at fitness, it’s not just about talent. It’s about developing the team a little bit… and he’s going to make it better.”
The trade between Utah and Minnesota was carried out shortly after the NBA’s moratorium on most offseason player moves and signing contracts was lifted Wednesday.
Many of the deals, such as Memphis’ Ja Morant and New Orleans’ Zion Williamson that will get rookie extensions worth at least $193 million over five seasons from 2023-24 to 2027-28 — both now official — were closed last year. week, but could not be completed until that moratorium ended.
Also signed now: Bradley Beal’s new deal in Washington, a five-year contract worth $251 million for the Wizards franchise player.
“Today represents such a special moment in my life,” said Beal.
Williamson signed his extension on his 22nd birthday.
“I want to thank you all for believing in me by giving a kid like me a chance to showcase my abilities and hopefully bring the team multiple championships,” said Williamson, who has spent most of his first three NBA games. missed seasons with injuries. but still got a max extension. “I especially want to thank you for really sticking with me over the past year.”
The final agreement in the Utah-Minnesota deal was this: Gobert to the Timberwolves for Patrick Beverley, Malik Beasley, Jarred Vanderbilt, Leandro Bolmaro, the rights to the newly drafted Walker Kessler, Minnesota’s 2023, 2025, 2027 and 2029 first-round picks and a 2026 first-round pick swap.
Jazz owner Ryan Smith said Gobert “will be a part of us forever.”
“Rudy Gobert had a huge impact on this franchise and the entire state of Utah during his nine seasons with the Jazz,” said Smith. “Rudy is one of the greatest defensive players in NBA history and will forever be regarded as one of the most important players to wear a jazz uniform. His love for and impact on this community is impossible to overestimate.”
The Jazz saw coach Quin Snyder step down after eight seasons last month, hiring former San Antonio and Boston assistant Will Hardy to replace him. Then came the Gobert trade, ending an era in Utah. No team in the Western Conference has won more regular-season games than the Jazz in the past six seasons, but success never carried over to the postseason. Utah made the playoffs in each of those six years and never made it past the second round.
“The chances of winning are not always great,” said Gobert. “For us in Utah, that’s about what happened. I think the organization felt that way. Maybe we had passed that window we had for years. I think it will still be a very competitive team. It just felt like with whatever resources they could get for me, it was better for them to go that way.”
The Timberwolves may be the opposite. They haven’t seen the second round in nearly two decades and are betting that Towns, Gobert, Anthony Edwards and D’Angelo Russell could become core to change all that.
“The goal is to win a championship,” Gobert said. “That’s what I came for. I didn’t come here just to be a good team. I came here to try and get this team to the final and achieve that.”
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